Ireland-based banks, Sia to develop instant money-transfer app

Thursday 14 January 2021 12:36 CET | News

A group of Irish banks have plans to set up an instantaneous money-transfer mobile app after selecting Italy-based fintech Sia to provide the technology, according to

Sia, which is backed by Italian state-owned investment firm Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and is currently in the process of merging with fellow Milan payments company Nexi, is yet to sign final contracts, as the entire plan is dependent on approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). The CCPC had received notification of the proposed payments app joint venture between AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB, and KBC Bank Ireland, called Synch Payments. Ulster Bank, which is not a founding member but was known to have been involved in initial discussions about the plan, ‘hope[s] to join the scheme at a later date’, according to a spokeswoman for the lender.

Industry sources said that Ulster Bank’s decision not to be involved at this stage is separate to the fact that its parent, NatWest, is currently reviewing the future of the Irish unit. Synch Payments would also be open to other domestic account providers such as An Post, the credit unions and fintech companies. A spokeswoman for the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), which has been co-ordinating the proposal, said that those working on the plan have received a positive response from potential members in recent days.

It would mark the first major collaboration between banks since the Laser debit card was introduced in 1996. Laser cards were phased out between 2007 and 2014 as banks replaced them with Visa or Mastercard debit cards. Traditional banks are facing a threat to their card and payments operations from challenger platforms, such as UK fintech operators Revolut and Monzo and Germany’s N26. Revolut, the UK-headquartered main digital platform in the Irish market, was only established in 2015 and claims to have already picked up about 1.2 million Irish users since its launch here in 2019.

Revolut, N26 and Monzo have yet to report an annual profit. However, the fear among mainstream banks is that as so-called neobanks continue to build up market share in payments, they will ultimately have a ready customer base for future lending and other financial products. The move by Irish banks to try and set up an instantaneous payments app underscores how the industry as a whole is behind the curve in having the technology in place to join the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) instant payment system.

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Keywords: Ireland, banks, SIA, Italy, fintech, instant money transfer, app, Revolut, Monzo, Nexi, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, CDP, N26, neobank, traditional bank, payment
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: Ireland
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